Home Formula FordFFord Festival Michael Gray goes last-to-first to win first Festival progression race

Michael Gray goes last-to-first to win first Festival progression race

by Craig Woollard

Photo: Ida Wood

Graham Brunton Racing’s Michael Gray spectacularly won the first Formula Ford Festival progression race from last on the grid as a penalty denied Daryl DeLeon Taylor a semi-final spot.

Gray started from 24th after an issue in his heat left him outside of the automatic qualifying spots, but he proved to be by far the quickest car in the first progression race.

He gained a whopping 12 spots on the opening lap, before carving his way up the order and into the top six, which is what is required to make it through to Sunday’s main action.

Gray, Souley Motorsport’s early leader Chris Hodgen and B-M Racing’s Taylor were able to pull away late into the 12-lap race, before Gray picked off Taylor on the penultimate lap and Hodgen on the final lap into Druids.

Such as his raw pace, he was still able to win the race by almost two seconds at the flag.

Long-time leader Hodgen and polesitter Philip Harris both make it through into the semi-finals with their positions, while Leanne McShane made an excellent start, dropped back to sixth early on, and recovered to fourth after misfortune for others.

Dan Rene Larson did get by Hodgen to lead the early stages but picked up damage and lost some straight-line speed. He then eventually ran wide while running in the top six and dropped down to ninth in the end and misses the cut.

FF1600 legend Rick Morris initially looked set to miss out on progression, but the issues for Larsen meant he climbed back into the top six. He was eventually classified fifth after Taylor, who was third on the road, was given a five-second time penalty for exceeding track limits.

That dropped him to seventh and gives Thruxton circuit manager Pat Blakeney the final semi-final spot.

Further back, Robert Higgins finished eighth while Shaun Macklin rounded out the top 10 behind Larsen.

Race results (12 laps)

Pos Driver Team Time
1 Michael Gray Graham Brunton Racing 10m44.477s
2 Chris Hodgen Souley Motorsport +1.870s
3 Philip Harris Harris Racing +4.495s
4 Leanne McShane Souley Motorsport +5.046s
5 Rick Morris Don Hardman Racing +5.652s
6 Pat Blakeney PA Motorsport +5.778s
7 Daryl DeLeon Taylor B-M Racing +7.116s
8 Robert Higgins +13.930s
9 Dane Rene Larsen +14.002s
10 Shaun Macklin +21.014s
11 James Colborn Wayne Poole Racing +21.410s
12 Stuart Kestenbaum Shaws Motorsport +22.723s
13 Shaun Hollamby PA Motorsport +24.169s
14 Hayden Hardyman TM Racing +24.796s
15 Henry Campbell +28.926s
16 Alan Slater Swift Cooper +28.993s
17 Laurie Hughes +31.050s
18 Simon Pruce +31.240s
19 Stephen Mawhinney +46.152s
20 Philip Attwood +50.739s
21 Terry Walkingshaw +1 lap
Ret Daniel Mavlyutov PWR1 Racing +1 lap
Ret Matthew Sturmer
Ret Ian Jeary
Fastest lap: Gray, 51.719s